Posted: December 8th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 349 Comments »
Think about the 2 biggest games of the year.
GB 53, PHI 20
SEA 24, PHI 14
There is one thing that really sticks out to me. Those teams have a franchise QB. The Eagles don’t.
Aaron Rodgers made several really impressive throws in the 1st quarter and helped the Packers get out to a big lead. He was able to throw his guys open on some plays. When they did get open, he got them the ball. His passes were accurate. They had touch when needed and velocity when that was needed. He was great that day.
Russell Wilson was able to turn bad plays into good plays. His OL is struggling, but he kept that from being an issue. And Wilson doesn’t have top WRs, but his ability to keep plays alive gave them time to get lost down the field and that’s what happened on multiple plays. While Wilson isn’t great from the pocket his TD pass was a thing of beauty.
Mark Sanchez started both games for the Eagles. He was 26-44-346 (2 TDs, 2 INTs) and then 10-20-96 (2 TDs, 1 INT). The numbers against GB look okay, but the majority came in the 2nd half and he only led the team to 6 points in the 1st half. The numbers against Seattle pretty much speak for themselves.
Please understand that I’m not blaming Sanchez for the losses.
The point here is to understand the difference between the Eagles and the best teams in the league. Rodgers and Wilson have QB’d their teams for several years and each has won a Super Bowl. Each is physically gifted. Both players burned the Eagles as runners and passers.
Sanchez is the Eagles backup QB. We all bought into a Kurt Warnerian fantasy where Sanchez might prove to be the perfect fit for the system and our QB savior. Clearly that’s not the case. He’s proven to be a good backup. With time, I do think he’ll get better as a starter. It takes time for guys to get completely comfortable in a system. But I think he’s got a limited ceiling.
Nick Foles looked like a franchise QB last year. He struggled some this year and left us all unsure what to make of him. The best hope is that watching from the sideline has helped him to see more of what he should and shouldn’t do. Sometimes taking a step back can help a player. I do think park of Foles problem this year was that he was trying to be too perfect. That’s the worst thing a QB can do. As Jon Gruden likes to say, “You’ll never go broke if you always make a profit.” He means that you don’t need 80-yard TDs all the time. Just keep the chains moving. The 4 and 5-yard plays aren’t flashy, but they keep the offense on the field and lead to points. Mix in bigger plays when you can, but you don’t need great plays on every drive.
It would be great if Foles could get back on the field this year so we could see him in action again. If not, Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman are going to have to head into the offseason unsure about him and actively looking for QB help.
* * * * *
Sanchez didn’t get a lot of help yesterday. Ertz failed to catch a pass on 3rd/long that would have extended the drive. Shady fumbled to open the 2nd half. The Eagles trailed by only 3 at that point. They could have either tied the game or taken the lead with a good drive there. The O-line didn’t have their best game of the year. I hated Kelly going for the deep ball on the one drive at midfield. The offense had some rhythm at that point. The incomplete pass took the rhythm away and the drive stalled.
Just about every offensive player had a hand in yesterday’s loss.
Sanchez can learn from the loss. There were plays that he left on the field. When you face an elite defense, you need to raise your level of play. He has to get the ball beyond the sticks on 3rd downs. The Eagles have had some luck with RAC yards in recent weeks, but that’s not going to work vs Seattle. They close to the ball quickly and are great tacklers.
Facing them should help the Eagles for when the postseason rolls around. They can study tape to see what worked and what didn’t. They can see where they must improve. I’m not exactly dying for a rematch, but I do think the Eagles would fare better now that they have seen that kind of defensive speed and they know what they’re up against.
Posted: December 7th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 62 Comments »
While today was discouraging, there were 2 Eagles who played well. Fletcher Cox looked like the best DL on the field. He was a big reason why the Eagles kept Marshawn Lynch under control. Lynch was 23-86, but 20 of that came on a draw play early in the game. Cox had 8 solo tackles (more than any Eagle or Seahawk) and was a disruptive force all game long. He was in on 11 total tackles and had a TFL. He could have had a couple of sacks if Russell Wilson wasn’t such a shifty, elusive QB.
Mychal Kendricks was also in on 11 tackles. He had a TFL and FF as well. Beyond numbers, Kendricks made his presence felt for much of the game. He had the power to tackle Lynch on inside runs and the speed to chase Wilson. Kendricks was the only Eagle with the closing speed to get to Wilson in the open field. If not for some throwaways, MK could have had 1 or 2 sacks. Kendricks looked like the best LB on the field today.
Cox and Kendricks played well enough to win. They were ready for the big game. That can’t be said for all their teammates.
The Eagles defense certainly has issues. The secondary just isn’t good enough. But you see the foundation of a good defense with players like Kendricks and Cox. Both are young and you can build around them. Both are strong and physical enough to play the run and deal with physical offenses. Both guys are athletic enough to play in space and handle speedy offenses.
* * * * *
One place the Eagles can get some defensive help is from guys currently on the roster.
* Obviously you start with Marcus Smith. If the Eagles decided to stick with Barwin/Cole/Graham at OLB, Smith could make the move to ILB a permanent one. He’s got the size and athletic ability to be a good ILB. He’s been mostly a non-factor this year (made a play on STs today), but that doesn’t mean he won’t thrive in the future.
* CB is a trouble spot for the Eagles and Jaylen Watkins could offer help there. The Eagles like him there more than at S. I don’t think the Eagles will pencil him in as a starter for 2015, but Watkins will at the very least be competing for a starting job. As weak as the Eagles are at DB, Watkins needs to get on the field somehow, somewhere.
* DE Taylor Hart can beat out Brandon Bair for a backup DE spot. Bair has been solid as a backup, but Hart has more raw talent and upside. You’d love to get him on the field.
* Ed Reynolds was late in joining the Eagles and that put him behind. He’ll have a full offseason to learn the defense and be ready. I don’t think Reynolds is starting material for now, but you at least want him pushing someone for playing time on defense and contributing on STs.
* Or maybe Reynolds get stuck on the PS again because he can’t beat out Chris Prosinski. That would be okay since Prosinski has played well on STs. He hasn’t played on defense yet and might never be a guy who will, but a full offseason will give him more of a chance to earn a role on D.
* Travis Long could be a valuable backup at ILB and OLB in 2015. The coaches were very high on him prior to his injury.
* Najee Goode will return in 2015. He could push for a starting role depending on what happens with DeMeco Ryans. Goode might add more speed to the middle of the defense, which would be a good thing.
* Earl Wolff is a mystery man to all of us. He recently had surgery so any issues with his knee should be gone next year. Wolff has got to stay on the field. There is no question that he has NFL ability. He showed that as a rookie. Wolff took a big step back this year. The Eagles won’t count on Wolff for next year, but I’m sure they’d love to have him show up ready to play.
Obviously the Eagles will bring in outside help, but you always want to start by looking at your own roster. Player development is huge for building a successful, winning organization. These players have potential. Remember that Ced Thornton was a UDFA that took time to develop. Former early picks Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry were disappointing early in their careers, but have now become key parts of the defense.
Posted: December 7th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 270 Comments »
Seattle looked like a playoff team. The Eagles did at times, but the offense was never able to get going. They might have scored 14 points, but only gained 139 yards and were controlled by the Seahawks all game long.
This game has me ticked off because I hate Seattle and desperately wanted to beat them. At the same time, this wasn’t like Green Bay. The Eagles weren’t run off the field. The defense did everything they could to keep the game close despite being on the field all game long. STs made some plays that helped both TD drives. This loss was on the offense.
The officiating didn’t help matters. I generally believe those things even out over the course of a season, but you hate when one team clearly benefits in a big game. Seattle definitely got the better of the officiating today. That isn’t to say those calls decided the game. They were the better team and deserved to win.
This is a good Eagles team, but they are clearly a step behind teams like Green Bay and Seattle. That doesn’t mean the Eagles couldn’t beat them in the playoffs, but a lot would have to go right for that to happen.
Next Sunday’s game vs Dallas now sets up as the key to the season.
Posted: December 7th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 744 Comments »
Ugly half of football. The Eagles offense can’t get going. Mark Sanchez looks uncomfortable. They had one drive that looked good, but an incomplete deep ball killed the rhythm of that drive and it stalled after that.
Seattle has 242 yards, but only 10 points. The Eagles have shut down their RBs, but Russell Wilson is making big plays. He’s run for 43 yards and a TD. He’s thrown for 153. The Eagles need to do a better job of keeping him in the pocket. Make him a conventional QB and he’s not the same player.
The Eagles get the ball to start the 2nd half. They don’t have to score, but they do need to at least move the ball and show some life.
Posted: December 7th, 2014 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 519 Comments »
The unstoppable offense meets the juggernaut defense. Who wins that battle? I still think the Eagles defense is going to be key to the game.
QB Nick Foles
OL Julian Vandervelde
OL Dennis Kelly
TE Trey Burton
DL Taylor Hart
DB Roc Carmichael
DB Jaylen Watkins
Burton is a big loss for the STs. Who will replace him? Could this mean some snaps for Marcus Smith on STs?
The Seahawaks are missing their starting C and slot corner.
Today has been wild across the NFL so god only knows what will happen in this game. The outside world likes Seattle. There is a quiet confidence on the Eagles and with their fans. We’ll see what happens.